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City leaders to move forward with purchase negotiations after parks survey results

PMG FILE PHOTO - The community voted through a parks survey to save Shaull Woods. The results of a recent Gresham parks community survey were loud and clear — residents across the city are calling for the purchase and protection of the Shaull Woods site in Southwest Gresham.

The city of Gresham is getting $5.4 million from a 2019 Metro Parks and Nature Bond, and the survey was a way for community members to help guide the prioritization of projects. More than 930 people voted — an amount of input Council President Eddy Morales said he has never seen as an elected official.

Several projects were mulled by the community, but everything kept coming back to purchasing the 7.82-acre Shaull property, at 3535 W. Powell Blvd., and its stand of Douglas Fir trees.

The forested site has gone through a controversial and complicated saga in the past few months. Though it was always intended to be folded into the adjacent Fairview Creek Headwaters wetlands and Southwest Community Park, it was instead sold to a Bend-based developer, SGS LLC, who has designs to build 30 homes at the site.

That proposed development led to an uproar, and prompted the city to put out the survey. The results showed that 477 people wanted to purchase the Shaull property, estimated to cost around $3 million of the Metro bond.

The other top responses were 349 people calling for forest health recovery, a $1 million project that would potentially limit wildfires in the region; 306 people voted for $1.75 million Fujitsu Pond improvements; and 271 voted for the construction of a $700,000 Hogan Butte Nature Education Center.

Because of the response, the city of Gresham indicated it would move forward in negotiating for the purchase of the Shaull property. It is unclear how long that process will take, and how much the developer will ask. The purchase price could also be offset by funds from partner groups. Local elected officials serving in Salem have already secured about $500,000 in state dollars.

The rest of the survey results will be utilized by the Parks & Recreation community advisory group as the remainder of the Metro Parks Bond is allocated to various projects.

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